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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Armscor Hippo at the SAPS Museum, Ventersburg
TypeArmoured personnel carrier
Place of originSouth Africa
Service history
In service1974 - 1978[1]
Used bySee Operators
WarsRhodesian Bush War
South African Border War
Namibian War of Independence
Soweto uprising
Production history
DesignerArmscor South Africa
ManufacturerArmscor South Africa
No. built275 (Mk 1-R)[2] 402 (Mk 1-M)[3]
VariantsSee Variants
Mass8.8 tonnes (9.7 short tons; 8.7 long tons)[1]
Length6.53 m (21 ft 5 in)[2]
Width2.46 m (8 ft 1 in)[2]
Height3.3 m (10 ft 10 in)[2]

2x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns[1]
EngineBedford 2.5 l (150 in3) inline 6-cylinder water-cooled petrol[2]
TransmissionZF 4-speed manual synchromesh (2nd, 3rd, 4th gears)[2][3]
Ground clearance32 cm[2]
Fuel capacity240 litres[2]
640 km[1]
Maximum speed 73 km/h[1]

The Hippo is a South African armoured personnel carrier. Specially designed to be mine resistant, it can carry ten infantrymen and a crew of two.[3] The vehicle's remote-operated turret mounts dual 7.62mm machine guns, but like other improvised fighting vehicles, it is only lightly protected against ballistic threats.[3]

Development history

An interim solution adopted to deal with the threat of land mines deployed by the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) in northern Ovamboland, the Hippo was simply a blastproof hull fitted to a Bedford RL chassis. Similar to the BTR-152, it offered a staggered troop compartment with seating facing inwards. Vision was restricted to narrow plate glass windows. This layout was universally unpopular and later corrected with the Buffel.[2] There were firing ports for the occupants and a powered machine gun turret could be braced on the open top, though these were seldom fitted. Passengers and crew debussed from a rear deck.[2]

The Hippo Mk1-R was based on a M1961 Bedford truck chassis, which was being phased from South African service in 1974.[1] The Mk1-R was manufactured using mild steel and RB390 armour steel.[3] Some 150 Mk1-R were ordered and shipped to the South African Police in 1974, another 5 being donated to the South-West African authorities.[2] Police units left behind several when they withdrew from Rhodesia in 1976; these were retained by Rhodesian Security Forces and later passed on to the Zimbabwe National Army.[4] In 1978, 120 Hippo Mk1-R conversions of M1970 Bedfords was undertaken for the South African Defence Force, which had assumed responsibility for patrols along the Angolan border and needed a new mine protected vehicle. The Hippo Mk1-M used ROQ TUFF steel instead of mild steel. The South African Army ordered 402 Mk1-M.[3]

The Hippo served its purpose for the South African Army but it was heavy, and lacked true off-road capability. A new mine-protected vehicle had been designed in April 1976 although it would be another two years before the Buffel would eventually replace the Hippo as the Army's premier troop-carrying mine-protected vehicle.[3]


  • Hippo Mk1-R - 1974 model, built on the 1961 Bedford chassis.
  • Hippo Mk1-M - 1978 model, built on the 1970 Bedford chassis.


In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Lesakeng". South African Armour Museum. 6 December 2012. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Heitman, Helmoed-Römer. South African Armed Forces. Buffalo Publications 1990. ISBN 0-620-14878-0 p 44.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Surviving The Ride". 30 Degrees South. ISBN 978-1-928211-17-4. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b Nelson, Harold. Zimbabwe: A Country Study. pp. 237–317.
  5. ^ Moorcraft, Paul L.; McLaughlin, Peter (April 2008) [1982]. The Rhodesian War: A Military History. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 978-1-84415-694-8.

External links


  • Peter Gerard Locke & Peter David Farquharson Cooke, Fighting Vehicles and Weapons of Rhodesia 1965-80, P&P Publishing, Wellington 1995. ISBN 0-473-02413-6
  • Peter Stiff, Taming the Landmine, Galago Publishing Pty Ltd., Alberton (South Africa) 1986. ISBN 9780947020040
This page was last edited on 14 July 2020, at 21:55
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